Everything is flowering profusely on the west coast this summer. Manuka and kanuka with their tiny white flowers give the hillsides a star-dusty look. My women’s group, that celebrates seasonal festivals together, gathered for a weekend together

 in my friend’s bach, which is higher up the hill than mine. From it we feel we are soaring like birds over the hidden valley in which the pohutukawa blooms, so richly this year,

and we drift out over the large inland dune that formed Lake Wainamu, hidden but always felt, in the V of the hills.

 Food, as always, was delicious and varied. This salad was made from rocket, smoked fish and hard-boiled eggs – very frisky on the palate.

Outside, the sea merged into mistiness or grew golden in the sunsets.

Here’s a little glimpse of our centerpiece, which we put together each time from various symbols that we bring: a paua shell fragment in a deep blue bowl of water,

 a cloth, candle, fruit and leaves as we formed our circle and contemplated the theme of giving and receiving,

and these cosmos flowers, which burst out in my bach garden the day before. With six women (2 absent this time), who have met for 20 – 28 years for this purpose, and with summer solstice so close, it’s no wonder that we felt expansive and grateful. We flowed into deep conversations, the stillness of meditation, and felt, yet again the full flowering of our love for one another and the richness of our lives.